What a week! Robert chooses a suitor and America will choose a president. Watching both of these experiences play out on television has left me depleted, frustrated, and confused. We had some laughs, but I’m glad it’s all over.
The episode begins with Eric, Brandon, and Dillon returning to the house after last week’s elimination. The guys spend roughly 15 seconds mourning the loss of Justin before they turn the attention back to themselves. They each panic about the season almost being over while they pack their bags for a Palm Springs getaway. At last, a chance to escape that house decorated by someone’s fun gay friend from Tampa.
The guys get in an Uber SUV with Robert and toast with label-free bottled water to their weekend in “the legendary Palm Springs.” They will continue referring to Palm Springs in these terms throughout the episode, and if I cared even a tiny bit more, I’d research whether or not that’s some sort of required city branding, but I won’t.
They get to Palm Springs, where they’re staying in a cluster of bungalows. At least it’s a step up from the garbage palace they’ve been calling home. They are each greeted with a handwritten note from Robert and a framed hashtag — you know, the ones they used to describe themselves in episode one. Robert’s handwritten notes sound pretty much identical, except for the fact that he signed Brandon’s as “Robert Sepúlveda” and everyone else’s as just “Robert.” Don’t know what that means and truly don’t care.
They immediately strip down to swimsuits and quietly paddle about in the pool until Robert points out how quiet everyone is being. They basically respond, “Well, duh.” They have a five-minute conversation in the pool that is too quiet to actually hear, then Robert opens up to them about his escort past. They replay a clip of him saying, “When I was in college I was an escort” at least six times and each time it is less shocking. Robert is open and raw about this experience that seems to have had an intense effect on him. It’s a healthy conversation, but I wish the show didn’t treat sex work like some kind of dark art. He was a hot, broke college student — who hasn’t been there? I mean, I dropped out of college, but still.
The guys don’t have much of a reaction, which is refreshing and nice to see. I’ve been tough on him, but I was happy for Robert because this was probably hard for him to do. Lance Bass arrives with big, wide eyes, like someone who has just witnessed a car accident. I don’t know if he was shocked by Robert’s secret or if he’d found the coke that comes with all cabanas in Palm Springs. Either way, he was there for a while introducing the next activity, which is Robert’s favorite thing!
[INSERT CHEAP JOKE ABOUT SEX WORK HERE.]
No! They’re going to paint rainbow crosswalks.
Lance Bass has to say, “Now go enjoy painting that crosswalk” before we cut to the guys painting the gayest street in Palm Springs. We then literally watch paint dry for five minutes before Brandon “pops his ankle” while prancing about. He’s in major pain as the guys surround him like a fallen soldier in battle before hurling him into an Uber.
Back at the house, Robert asks Eric to go on a date that night. Eric reacts like his odds had been something other than one out of three. After that, Robert goes to talk to Dillon, who confronts him about feeling distant. This encounter is weirdly short and ends with Dillon packing up and leaving. So now we’re down to just Eric and Brandon.
On Eric’s date, he and Robert sit in a completely empty restaurant and compliment each other for a while. Then Eric launches into this fired-up romantic monologue, the kind Julia Roberts delivered in every rom-com she did in the ‘90s. This is made weirder by the fact that Eric looks a lot like Julia Roberts in Hook, or, at the very least, a short-haired Shelby. The date ends with them back at the house, making out in the pool and whispering at each other. It’s very porn-y and the hushed trickles of the moonlit pool water made me feel icky down to my tippie toes.
Brandon gets the next day’s date. Robert arrives in his room with a bandaged teddy bear, which I assume we’re supposed to find endearing. They lay in Brandon’s bed and make out for a while. On another note, Brandon deserves a gold medal for “best wearer of tank tops.” After that, they go on their date at a less empty restaurant. They are emotional and Robert ends up sobbing about … well, everything, I guess.
After the two dates, Robert and Lance Bass rehash the entire episode in tuxedos before we get to the very last Black Tie Affair. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell which way Robert was leaning. Maybe he was actually conflicted or maybe it was just really good producing, but either way, it felt like a real toss-up.
Brandon and Eric arrive at the Black Tie Affair, then Lance Bass explains the entire concept of the show all over again and it’s clear somebody didn’t get enough footage that day. Robert arrives and he’s a nervous wreck. It must be a weird feeling to stand in front of two people you’ve made real, emotional connections with — and then you’re forced to choose one of them on television. With Lance Bass breathing down your neck, no less!
In the end, Robert chooses Eric, which genuinely surprised me. His connection with Brandon seemed to be the strongest, but who knows what the hell is going on anymore. Eric seems like a lovely person and I can only hope he and Robert find happiness together. But more important, I hope all these queens will be ready to deliver at next week’s reunion. I won’t end this finale recap with a good-bye, but instead … see you at the reunion, Mary!